“My dream is to retire. That’s not a one-liner; it’s true. To spend every year of your life with the abstraction of making a film, with a crew of 200 people and their passions and their stupid priorities, the pressure of having to deliver, the pressure of spending other people’s money and having to be nasty because you don’t want to give up your integrity? And then to show your film to the world and to have to talk about it and repeat your answer to the same questions again and again…? I used to see making films as a kind of paradise and I now realize it’s kind of a hell, to be honest.” — Luca Guadagnino in the fall/winter 2017 edition of Fantasticman.
I don’t know how many other directors share Guadagnino’s attitude, but he’s one of the very few with the balls to share it in a public forum. He’s said before that he could be happy doing something other than directing. I don’t entirely believe him. Being a hotshot, world-class director opens up so many doors and opportunities, after all. And Gudagnino is one of the few directors I would describe as genuinely happy and even joyful about his life, despite all the alleged negatives.
I say this as one who could never be where Luca is. I see life in terms of struggle and duty and working your fingers to the bone. “I went to sleep dreaming life is beauty / I woke and found that life is duty.”
It all boils down to that Robert E. Lee Pruitt line: “A man should be what he can do.” Whether it makes you happy or not is beside the point. A gift or a special ability has to be nurtured, developed and applied. Failing to do this is not only shameful but tragic.